Ms Jainab Bte Abdullah, 45, looks after her mother, Mdm Halimah Bte Abdullah, 68, is totally paralysed from a stroke. Despite great odds, Ms Jainab perseveres in caring for her mother at home. This is her story.
"My mother is a very caring and kind woman but she had a hard life when she was young. Then she met my father and had a loving marriage. When my father passed away 8 years ago, my brother and I were determined to give her a good life. We told her not to go out to work, and that we would look after her.
However in 1998, my mother suddenly had a stroke. This left her left side paralysed. I was then working as a production operator and would prepare her lunch and place it next to her bed before I went to work. Together with my brother who worked as a security guard, we managed to get by on our modest salaries. Then in March 2001, my mother suddenly collapsed at a relative's funeral. We rushed her to the hospital and were told that she had had a second stroke. She was now totally paralysed. We were very worried that we would lose her, but were very relieved when she recovered slowly and was able to come home.
Now, my mother can move her eyes. She can't speak or move but I know how she is and what she needs. She is my mother after all. It breaks my heart to see that she cannot do anything for herself anymore. I was retrenched last year and am now doing contract work in a factory. I asked to be placed on the night shift so that there is someone at home in the daytime. My brother, who is married, comes to see her at night.
When I get home in the morning, I wash my mother, change her diapers, and give her a milk feed. She is unable to eat because of the stroke. I have to feed her through a tube. After feeding her, I do some housework. I cannot sleep for long stretches in the day as I need to wake up to feed or change her. At most, I sleep for just two to three hours a day.
The milk feeds are expensive, costing about $3 per can. The nurse told me that I need to give my mother five cans a day. This is a lot of money. To save on the cans, I give her porridge water for some meals and milk feeds for others. I know that the nutritional value is reduced but what can I do? At least we can make the cans of milk feed last longer.
Recently, I had to be hospitalised because of poor health. I was so worried because I could not work. We were not able to pay for the milk feeds and the diapers, and owed some money. How was I going to look after my mother? I was therefore very happy and relieved when the social worker told me that they would give us $360 each month through HomeCare Assist to buy milk feeds and diapers. I am very grateful to the medical social workers at Changi General Hospital. They have helped my family a lot, in many ways.
With their help, I am able to keep my mother at home. My mother has said that she does not want to go to a nursing home. No matter how difficult it is, I don't want to put her in a home. Even if I am tired, I know I can still take care of her.
I count my blessings. I know there are people with more problems than me. At least I still have my mother and my brother with me."
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